The best way to describe the Chaos Theory is the butterfly effect. A butterfly flaps its wings in the Amazon and we get a hurricane in South Carolina. Or, in Alzheimer’s parlance, your father moves his papers around and years later you are trying to find them.
When you live with Alzheimer’s, I mean really live with it, to the point where you haven’t put your loved one in a people kennel to die, there is no end to the chaos your loved one can cause. Unfortunately, the chaos doesn’t end when they’re gone. I lost my father a year ago this month, and am still trying to clean up the mess.
One thing they don’t tell you when dealing with AD is the fact that the person who has it will often have a ‘stash’ of things. The problem is they watch you, and move their ‘stash’. The location will not be logical, and will be born out of paranoia. You can’t out-think or reason through paranoia. You’re stuck. When you’re stuck, when you are looking for the registration to the car, heaven only knows where it is. I can tell you the day my father moved things. I can’t tell you where they are.
The conversation with my mother went something like this:
HER: Have you looked in the safe?
ME: Of course.
HER: Have you looked in the drawers?
ME: We’ve gone through every drawer in the house, remember?
HER: I just keep thinking…
ME: I’ve emptied the safe.
HER: You didn’t throw it away did you?
ME: Everything is on the dining room table.
HER: His desk?
ME: Been through it.
ME: Been through it.
HER: Bedroom drawers?
ME: We’ve been through everything.
HER: I just keep thinking.
ME: I know when he moved them.
ME: The day he and Dustin changed the registration on Big Blue (the 1978 Buick convertible).
HER: Would Dustin know?
ME: Of course not.
We’ve basically had the same conversation concerning her diamond wedding band, spare cash, and so forth and so on. It is all about AD, and where on earth the stash is. If you know anything about AD, you know this conversation can be about anything from the television remote, the wallet, car keys, dentures, hearing aids, glasses, and so forth and so on.
One of the great problems in dealing with all of this is dealing with people who don’t understand that this sort of thing happens with AD. When you encounter people who are incapable of understanding or even comprehending the situation you have a very real problem. Quite frankly, I’m tired of having to explain to people that my father had Alzheimer’s. When someone has AD, they are vulnerable in so many different ways. One of the little quirks of AD is that, if you are lucky, the person will be mischievous, and funny naughty like my father. He would do things to drive my mother crazy, knowing full well what he was doing, and laughing about it, when her back was turned. And, yes, it was funny. Even a few days before he died, my father knew just how to antagonize her.
He also put stuff ‘up’. Unfortunately, he always put stuff up, even when he was perfectly normal. I always knew how to find his papers, tax receipts, deposit slips, business records, because I knew his thought process. His filing system was chaotic. I finally had enough of it, and went shopping for plastic baskets, paper sorters, new file folders – color coded, Sharpies, push-pins, labels, and trash bags. It took me weeks to organize his life and his business. If he lost gas receipts for fuel reports, I had a fairly good idea where he would put them. I created a plastic basket with ‘gas receipts’ labeled on it. There was another large plastic basket for ‘mail’, and so forth and so on enabling his employees to help keep him organized.
My father was brilliant, but he was one of the most disorganized people you will ever meet. He would walk into the house, take off his work shoes, and drop his car keys, and wallet into his shoes. Once AD hit, twenty years later, we would look for missing keys in his shoes. Sometimes we would get lucky. His business records would eventually be mailed or taken to his accountant who kept them for a year, then put them in a big manila envelope for him. I still have about thirty of those envelopes and would never part with them. The problem is, when the AD process started kicking in with his brain, he would trust people he should not trust. Consequently, I don’t have the records I need to locate the money stolen from him. He gave his records to the very people who took everything he had.
This is the one of the problems with AD that no one bothers warning anyone about. I think the reason the so-called ‘experts’ don’t mention things like this is because we’re talking about people who dumped their family members instead of caring for them. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when this is necessary. We were blessed in my family. My father was a pussy-cat. He was never angry, violent, or profane. We did not have the physical problems others do. Until the last month or so of his life, things weren’t as bad as they could have been.
I know a woman whose mother is in the local care center. She’s up there with her almost every day. Because of her mother’s physical situation, caring for her at home would have been extremely difficult. I have another friend’s whose father literally became violent with his mother, trying to strangle her. It broke his heart to do what he had to do, but he had no choice. He had to have his father taken away, almost immediately.
This sort of thing happens. What also happens is people with AD do things with ‘stuff’. People with compassion understand when you can’t produce certain items of paperwork. But, when you come up against someone who is not quite honest, they can’t grasp the fact that everyone is not as dishonest and criminally inclined when they are.
Now you know the problem I’ve been having this week. I’m dealing with a con artist, a psychopath, who doesn’t want to comprehend the problems I’ve had with my father putting things in his stash.